Marshalltown senior Tyler Kluver has not lived a long life yet. But so far, what he experienced at the 2013 Under Armour All-American game in Florida has been the best experience of that short time.
Kluver was part of a high school all-star game that featured around 100 of the best prep football players in the country when he spent a week in Orlando and St. Petersburg, Fla.
"This is one of the best experiences of my life," Kluver said. "I have not lived very long yet but this is the best moment for sure. Not a lot of people get to be a part of this game."
T-R FILE PHOTO
Marshalltown High School senior Tyler Kluver earned a first-team All-American by Kohls Kicking Camp recently. He also played in the Under Armour All-American Game and was the long snapper on the winning team.
Past players include current Atlanta Falcon WR Julio Jones, current Cincinnati Bengal A.J. Green and current Cleveland Brown Trent Richardson. Current collegiate athletes Matt Barkley (USC), Landry Jones (Oklahoma), Braxton Miller (Ohio State) and Manti Te'o (Notre Dame) also played in the game.
Kluver and the rest of this year's athletes spent a week on site in Florida, and in Kluver's words, "were treated like kings."
"It was amazing," Kluver said. "We got picked up at the airport. They had a players' lounge that had eight TVs and eight Xbox game systems. We had a refrigerator full of Gatorade and I ate the best food I have ever eaten. It felt a lot like what you see on TV when the NBA players come into the arena. There were cameras everywhere."
Kluver played on the Black Team and was the team's long snapper. He is ranked as the second-best long snapper in the nation by kohlskicking.com and was recently named to the website's inaugural All-American team as a first-team selection.
"Being part of the first-ever Kohl's Kicking Camp All-America team is special to me," Kluver said. "But when you are ranked No. 2 in the nation, you better be good enough to make that team. I guess I expected it if I am being ranked that high. It kind of caps of my high school career with kohlskicking.com."
Selections to that All-American squad are based on season stats and for long snappers, a point system that grades the effectiveness of the snaps.
Kluver was a perfect 93-for-93 this season.
Playing in the Under Armour All-American game and earning an All-American honor through Kohl's Kicking go hand-in-hand.
The game itself was played at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., this past Friday. The game itself is the highlight of the week, but Kluver said it is only part of the experience.
The week also included an Orlando Magic game and a banquet.
The coaching staffs included former NFL head coaches Herm Edwards and Steve Mariucci and former NFL players Deion Sanders and LaVar Arrington.
"I thought it would be different being around all those NFL guys, but Herm Edwards is a fun guy to be around," Kluver said. "He kept us focused. He got us motivated to get the job done. He is the most influential speaker I have ever been around. He can fire you up in 10 seconds."
The game featured some of the best recruits in the nation including the top-ranked QB and Penn State commit Christian Hackenberg and the No. 1 overall prospect Robert Nkemdiche.
Kluver said he now has tons of new friends in his life. He plans on staying in touch with a lot of them through text and Twitter.
His relationship with punter Sean Covington grew this past week. The UCLA commit and Kluver knew each other before through their time with kohlskicking.com, but the relationship got even better after spending the week together.
"We hung out all the time," Kluver said. "I was not a big name guy when I came here because I was a long snapper. My biggest goal was to leave here and be known by some of the best players in the nation. I think I did that."
As far as Kluver's performance on the field?
"Fans who watched the game thought I did a good job," Kluver said. "People who know more about long snapping would say that I did OK. I had a lot more energy though because it was the first time I got to long snap without being tired from playing linebacker."
The players were given plenty of gear to remember the experience.
Kluver said he walked away with an entire football uniform minus the shoulder pads as well as 8-10 T-shirts, four pairs of shorts, duffle bags, three pairs of socks and a jacket - all of which had the Under Armour All-American Game logo.